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CARITAS to Install Largest Solar Power System at any Nonprofit in Virginia

More than 1,000 Heliene brand photovoltaic solar panels will be installed starting in Spring 2020 on the roof of the CARITAS Center. The 427 Kilowatts of Solar Arrays Will Save an Estimated $427,000 in Energy Costs.

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CARITAS has signed an agreement with Secure Futures Solar of Staunton to install and operate the largest solar power system at any facility for a non-profit organization in Virginia. Solar arrays on the new CARITAS Center now under construction will provide a total capacity of 427 kilowatts of clean energy, estimated to cut the organization’s electric utility bills by $427,000 over the next 25 years.

More than 1,000 Heliene brand photovoltaic solar panels will be installed starting in Spring 2020 on the roof of the CARITAS Center currently being renovated in the Southside area of Richmond. The solar energy system is expected to cover a substantial portion of the new facility’s energy use by generating enough clean energy to power the equivalent of 72 average homes and to offset 464 tons of carbon dioxide pollution.

According to data on solar installations registered with the Virginia State Corporation Commission, the solar arrays at the CARITAS Center will have the largest capacity of any solar energy system located on a building or elsewhere at the location of a non-profit organization in Virginia. As of 2016, Virginia hosted nearly 38,000 nonprofit organizations delivering vital community services, according to consultancy Independent Sector.

“Innovation is one of our core values at CARITAS,” said President & CEO Karen Stanley. “As we move ahead bringing this bold vision for the CARITAS Center to life, it is important that we integrate new energy solutions into our project. We hope we can lead the way as other nonprofits bring solutions like this to life in their communities.”

Secure Futures will install solar energy equipment at no upfront capital cost to CARITAS and will operate the system under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement. Over that term, CARITAS will buy all the electricity generated by the solar panels located on site from Secure Futures at a cost lower than typically available. CARITAS will use a $17,000 grant from the RVA Solar Fund, administered by the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond.

“CARITAS is walking the talk in linking clean energy to community service in Virginia, ” said Anthony Smith, president and CEO of Secure Futures. “Rooftop solar will cut their electric bills, making more resources available for their most vulnerable neighbors break the cycles of homelessness and addiction to reclaim their lives.”

When renovation of the former warehouse facility is completed later in 2020, the CARITAS Center will feature 150,000 square foot of space to house an emergency shelter, a substance-use recovery program for women, 47 apartments for people transitioning out of homlessness, a workforce development center, a furniture bank, and the organization’s administrative offices.

The decision to add solar power at the new facility is consistent with the commitment of CARITAS to effective stewardship of resources that are both financial and ecological. The building will also incorporate about 45 solar tubes, which will filter natural light throughout the Center. Other appliances are ENERGY STAR certified to manage usage and costs. Toilets in the bulding will also feature automatic shut off functions.

CARITAS helps our most vulnerable neighbors break the cycles of homelessness and addiction to reclaim their dignity. For more than 30 years, CARITAS has been providing effective, permanent solutions to individuals and families dealing with the crisis of homelessness and/or substance use disorders in the Metro Richmond area. Its four programs include Emergency Shelter, the Furniture Bank, CARITAS Works, and The Healing Place. Through these four programs, CARITAS provides men and women with the tools to make a successful transition to dignity and self-sufficiency.  You can learn more on the organization’s website at www.caritasva.org.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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West of the Boulevard

Councilmember Addison distributing PPE supplies at two sites in the First District this weekend

More than 600 face masks and bottles of hand sanitizer will be distributed at two different events mid-day Saturday, May 30th.

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If you’re in need of some personal protective equipment, or PPE, and you live in the First District, this weekend you can pick some up from Councilmember Andreas Addison at two different locations. More than 600 face masks and bottles of hand sanitizer will be distributed at the events below.

Both events take place Saturday, May 30th from 11:00 AM until 2:00 PM; one at Albert Hill Middle School at 3400 Patterson Avenue, and the other at the West End Branch Public Library at 5420 Patterson Avenue.

Supplies will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Business

Stoney: City to “cautiously move” into Phase 1 of reopening plan on Friday, May 29th

On Thursday, Mayor Stoney announced that the City of Richmond will cautiously move into Phase 1 of Forward Virginia, the state’s reopening plan. Masks will be required in all indoor spaces and restaurants will be asked to voluntarily connect patrons’ information for contact tracing purposes.

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On Thursday, Mayor Stoney announced that the City of Richmond will cautiously move into Phase 1 of Forward Virginia, the state’s reopening plan.

“When I look at the picture in totality, given the added tools at our disposal, the current trends in our local data and my faith in Richmonders to look out for one another, I believe that Richmond can cautiously move into Phase 1 on Friday, May 29,” said Mayor Stoney at Thursday’s press conference.

During the first delay that the City of Richmond requested, the Stoney administration and Richmond City Health District expanded testing efforts, implemented a contact tracing effort, ensured every COVID-19 positive Richmonder will be able to isolate safely and securely with supported isolation, and advocated for a statewide mask requirement.

The city initially requested a modified Phase 1 reopening that maintained restrictions on places of worship and personal care and grooming services, as mass gatherings and close personal contact for extended periods of time both significantly increase chance of community spread.

Because the governor denied the city’s modified plan for reopening, Richmond will move into Phase 1 of Forward Virginia, the state’s reopening plan, with strong recommendations reflecting the mayor’s proposed modifications. Local guidance and helpful links to state guidance are available here. The state has yet to provide guidance on what Phases 2 and 3 will include.

The mayor detailed a number of best practices for residents and business owners to ensure that the city moves into Phase 1 cautiously. The best practices emerged from conversations between the Stoney administration and members of the business community, faith leadership, and health professionals.

  1. All residents who are medically able to should wear a face-covering that covers the mouth and nose when in public spaces. The wearing of a face covering does not negate the need for 6-foot social distancing.
  2. Faith communities should continue to meet virtually if possible. If in-person meetings are absolutely necessary, the mayor strongly recommends faith groups meet outside while practicing strict social distancing and enforcing the face-covering requirement.
  3. Food and drink establishments that choose to offer outdoor service at half capacity are asked to request a name and contact information of patrons who dine in for contact tracing purposes. This practice is voluntary for both patrons and restaurants. However, collecting this small amount of information for each dine-in party will go far in assisting the Richmond City Health District in tracing and containing outbreaks. Guidance on this practice is available here.

The mayor made two requests of the state: to continue to assist the city in further expanding testing capacity and in providing adequate face-coverings and hand sanitizer throughout the capital city.

“Quite frankly, we’re going to need more support from the state for our residents and our businesses to reopen safely and sustainably,” the mayor noted in his appeal. “I make these recommendations and requests of the state because, as has been my mantra this entire pandemic. Reopening should be slow and steady.”

“When public health is on the line, blindly pushing forward is not an option. Decisions must be thoughtful, and they must be based in our collective knowledge of and love for our city.”

See more reopening guidance for local businesses here: www.rvastrong.org/reopeningguidance.

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Community

Hill Standard’s Website is Live

More details on the latest development on Forest Hill Avenue.

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Nearly weekly on local social media the question comes up, What are they building next to the school (4910-20 Forest Hill Avenue)? You will no longer have to explain that it’s a mixed-use pair of buildings that will include apartments, a brewery, coffee shop, and an ice cream shop. Now you can simply give them this link (https://www.hillstandardrva.com/hill-standard-richmond-va/) and send them on their merry way.

If you’re thinking of moving in, one-bedroom apartments start at $1,225 while a two-bedroom will start at $1,943.

If you’re thinking of getting a beer, the Veil satellite brewery is planning on being open in September.

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